Who should apply to the MA in Policy Studies?

People who are interested in policy research and policy implementation and who want to not only develop the practical skills to be a policy researcher or a policy professional, but who also want to learn the theory of public policy and be exposed to the latest academic research. 

How can I apply?

The online admissions process to the MA in Policy Studies opens each fall, along with admissions to the Political Science graduate programs offered by the Department of Political Science. You can find some basic information on admissions to the program here so you can get started on your application for Fall 2022 now. Official information will be posted on the Department of Political Science website, which is where you will also find links to the University of Alberta online application system, official deadlines, etc. The deadline is January 15th for admission the following September.

What is the difference between the course-based stream and the practicum stream? To which stream should I apply?

The course-based stream is designed for people with significant experience working in the policy or public sector. The experience could be volunteer or professional, but normally students would be expected to have at least two to three years of experience. Students with less experience or who are not currently employed in the public sector are strongly encouraged to apply to the practicum-based stream. Both programs are designed to take about 16 months to complete, although the program can be completed in 12 months. Practicum students will complete a work placement that lasts for about six months, which gives them a chance to develop their skills and build their network. Course based students take two additional policy courses, which allows them to develop expertise in additional policy areas and further their knowledge-base.

Professional development sessions, mentoring opportunities, and other aspects of the program are available to students in both streams of the program.

Should I apply to the MA in Policy Studies, rather than the MA in Political Science?

Both specializations offer a multitude of opportunities. It's a personal decision which program is the better fit for you, your research interests, and your goals. The MA in Political Science is about the study of power – where does it come from, how is it organized, who has it, who doesn’t, how does it change over time and why. In contrast, the MA in Policy Studies is about understanding the ways that power translates into procedural or institutional forms of action, normally through government action (or inaction).  

What kind of courses can I expect to take if I enroll in the program?

The program requires all students to take three core classes (Power, Politics, and Policymaking in Canada; Indigenous Engagement, Governance and Policy; Policy Studies Capstone). Students can choose their other courses from the Political Science and Policy Studies courses offered by the Department. These could include Foreign Policy Studies, Alberta Government and Politics, as well as Topics courses on current policy issues (For example: Climate Policy, Corrections Policy, Environmental Policy, Systemic Design). Students can also take up to two courses outside of the Department, with approval from the Director of Graduate Studies.

What sort of career can graduates of the program expect?

The program prepares students for a wide variety of careers in Canada and internationally. Many of our graduates have found permanent employment in the public sector, broadly understood. These include positions in municipal, provincial or federal governments, as well as positions with Indigenous government organizations, the not-for-profit sector, or private sector positions that work in areas such as government relations.

I'm an employer who is interested in hiring a student. How do I do that?

Great! Check out the additional information, soon available here, and then contact our Laura Kerslake our workplace employment coordinator at

I'm a policy practitioner and/or a Political Science department alumni and I'm interested in supporting the program. How can I do that?

We welcome the support and involvement of alumni and other policy practitioners. If you are interested in contributing as a mentor, through hiring a student, or in other ways, such as contributing to courses or to professional development sessions, please reach out to Laura Kerslake at